Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Parliament will summon ministers who delay bringing Bills before the House for alignment with the Constitution and give them deadlines to do so, National Assembly Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda has said. This reveals the lawmakers’ frustration with the delay in aligning laws. Addressing civil society representatives at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST) at Parliament Building last Friday, Adv Mudenda said alignment of existing laws with the Constitution had been frustratingly slow.
He said in the past there was nothing Parliament could do to force the Executive to bring Bills for debate. “But we are now changing our strategy now. We know some of these pieces of legislation that need to be aligned. “We call in the relevant ministry and it is within our right because the President has given us that legislative agenda that one of the Bills that must come to Parliament is the one on the establishment of Special Economic Zones.
“If nothing comes, we are not going to wait, we will call the minister concerned and we will give them deadline. And we are within our right and the expectation of the President. “So we have said, we are going to call that minister and the permanent secretary and explain that the President said we need this piece of legislation, what is your problem? As far as I am concerned, there is no problem. There is some indolence in some cases of the highest order.”
Adv Mudenda said Parliament was expected to align about 400 pieces of legislation to the Constitution yet only eight had been aligned so far.
He said according to their institutional strategic plan, the legislature was expected to align at least 100 pieces of legislation a year. He reiterated that there was need for the Executive to allocate some of the laws that needed alignment to faculties of law at State universities and the Law Society of Zimbabwe. The Speaker urged the civil society and the media to help with identifying gaps in the law and reporting them to Parliament.
He said the legislative arm of Government was ready to take into consideration input from stakeholders as long as it was in line with the Constitution.
Adv Mudenda said Parliament derived its power from the electorate and the Constitution and would do everything within its power to protect the latter. He said the Legislature operated on the doctrine of separation of powers and would not interfere with the operations of the Executive and Judiciary. For that reason, he said the Legislature could not investigate corruption cases that were before the committee since that was not its mandate.
In his remarks, SAPST director, Mr John Makamure said the meeting presented a platform for civil society organisations to engage Parliament on issues of interest.
“As an organisation, we are supporting this event in line with Constitutional requirements. As many of us are aware, Section 141 of the Constitution requires Parliament to facilitate public involvement in its process. So this meeting is basically to implement that constitutional provision,” said Mr Makamure. Some of the civil society organisations that were represented at the meeting included the Zimbabwe Law Society, the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Heal Zimbabwe Trust, Veritas and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.